Three-Point Play: Puff Johnson, Karim Mane, NCAA
What do the final weeks of Puff Johnson’s recruitment look like? National analyst Corey Evans highlights where things stand in today’s edition of the Three-Point-Play, along with the current situation surrounding Karim Mane and a look at what the recent NCAA’s NIL discussions really mean.
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1. PUFF JOHNSON TO SIGN IN TWO WEEKS
The recruitment of Puff Johnson has been relatively quiet this fall. After moving to Arizona to attend Hillcrest Prep, and with his father's ties to Arizona head coach Sean Miller, many had just assumed Johnson would play for the Wildcats. While that could be the case, it's far from a done deal.
Yes, Arizona is the leader and Johnson's official visit earlier this fall could not have gone any better. The four-star will play his senior year alongside Arizona commit Dalen Terry and he has a strong relationship with Miller. That's all very positive for the Wildcats, but there are two other programs that cannot be discounted, either.
Could the allure of playing for a blueblood and Roy Williams win out for Johnson? What about returning home and being one of the catalysts of change for Jeff Capel’s program? We should find out in the next two weeks, but keep an eye on the Tar Heels as North Carolina is in a much better spot than previously believed.
2. KARIM MANE'S UNUSUAL SITUATION
High-major options in the backcourt are dwindling by the day, which makes the recruitment of Karim Mane one of the more peculiar ones this fall. The five-star out of Montreal, Quebec, is one of the very best 2-guards in the 2020 class, but his recruitment does not line up with his ability.
Maryland hosted Mane for an official visit during his junior year, and his next official visit is scheduled for Marquette on Jan. 3. Alabama, Cal and Illinois are among those also in frequent contact with Mane. While Kentucky had shown interest in the past and Michigan State recently placed a phone call, there is a distinct lack of blueblood interest for this blue chip prospect.
It is possible that programs are being scared off by the possibility that Mane is the next to skip college and jump directly to the NBA. He is already 19-years-old and will be a full year removed from his high school graduation by the 2020 NBA Draft next June. He could decline scholarship offers and instead earn an NBA paycheck next year.
That still is a big ‘if,' as Mane remains focused on his final prep season. But what if he does decide to play a year of college ball? If that happens, kudos to the programs that have at least remained involved. Their work could pay off with the enrollment of one of the best talents in the 2020 class.
3. NCAA DELIVERS APPLAUSE, THEN UNCERTAINTY
Name. Image. Likeness. It is coming to the college game and while the NCAA’s initial ‘breakthrough’ earlier this week wasn’t really a breakthrough, it is only a matter of time before college athletes will finally be able to cash in.
Whenever that day arrives, it will be mighty interesting to see how the NCAA will go about regulating this activity and how programs use it in enhancing their recruiting pitches. A thought that been thrown out that the NCAA would forbid programs from discussing NIL opportunities during recruiting, but let’s face it, there is no way around it.
That being said, the question to ponder is whether this new world will make the rich richer, or would it add an extra element of parity to college sports?
Imagine Pitt being able to use the lure of the locally-founded Dick’s Sporting Goods to offer R.J. Davis the lead on the company's national campaign for its newest basketball merchandise? Does Davis still stick with North Carolina or take Pitt’s offer?
What if UNLV, with the mountains of cash that the local gambling businesses bring in, makes a deal with Caesar’s Palace and they, in return, offer an immense compensation package to local talent Jaden Hardy to stay home for college?
Murray State can’t compete with the bluebloods but, by putting together a giant package that includes deals with local McDonald’s and Ford dealership, could it sway Zion Harmon to campus over the slew of national brands in the race for his signature?
There are nothing but what-ifs at this point, but it would be in the best interests of staffs across America to begin diving into potential outlets for how it can use the potential NIL ruling to enhance its program moving ahead.